Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Heidi Newberg discusses how much we have learned about galaxies in the last century, and the mysteries still awaiting discovery. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

Castleton State College said Tuesday that it had replaced its head football coach after an investigation into charges that he broke National Collegiate Athletic Association rules by helping a player get $22,000 in student loans. The Vermont public college said that the coach, Rich Alercio, had been accused by the NCAA of arranging for a part-time employee of the college to co-sign or endorse three loans for an unidentified player, which would violate the association's rules against improper benefits for athletes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

The London School of Economics and Political Science is facing increased criticism over its ties to Mu’ammer Gaddafi, whose son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi earned a Ph.D. at the university and made large donations to it. Times Higher Education reported that students have expressed outrage that these donations led to agreements by the London School of Economics to operate programs in Libya -- since called off. Students took over a building to demand, among other things, that some of the Gaddafi money be used for scholarships. A statement from the university says that it “shares the students’ revulsion at the recent violence and gross violations of human rights in Libya, and much regrets the association of the school’s name with Saif Gaddafi and the actions of the Libyan regime."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 3:00am

James Franco has posted a photograph expressing his four-letter-word feelings about The Yale Daily News, the student newspaper at the institution where he is earning his Ph.D. While Franco did not detail his complaints about the publication, it has poked fun at his Oscar hosting and his use of Twitter, among other things. Cokey Cohen, author of some of the articles that may have insulted Franco, responded to the photo in a piece in which Cohen defended his early critiques of the "lame-ness of James Franco's Twitter," but said the photo response was more creative.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Six higher education groups are urging the U.S. Senate to pass long-delayed legislation this week to overhaul federal patent laws. In a letter to senators, the Association of American Universities and five other associations express their support for the measure, S. 23. The legislation would more closely align U.S. patent laws with those in Europe and Asia in several ways, including by granting patents for a particular innovation to the first inventor to file a patent for it, rather than, necessarily, to the creator of the innovation. An amendment is expected this week that would eliminate the legislation's "first-inventor-to-file" provision, which some lawmakers say would tilt the system against individual inventors and entrepreneurs. The college groups urge senators to reject the amendment.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the University of the Pacific's Ken Albala dissects the competing claims concerning meat content in some popular fast foods. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of the District of Columbia is facing questions about first class air travel by its president, Allen Sessoms, following the release of records on the travel to a Fox 5 reporter. One of the trips (this one business class) was to Egypt, and UDC would provide only limited and redacted records about what he did there, spending a few hours a day visiting a sister university and spending other time on tourist activities and shopping. On the same trip, he stopped in Britain on the way back (spending $1,000 there,) but the university said it had no documentation for why he was there. Sessoms declined to comment.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

Japan has been shocked by an Internet cheating scandal on an entrance exam to Kyoto University, one of the country's most prestigious institutions. The New York Times reported that questions from the exam (and replies) were posted on a popular website while the exam was taking place.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

A week after the chancellor of the University System of Ohio resigned to allow the state's new Republican governor to appoint his own higher ed leader, Governor John Kasich announced the appointment of a former attorney general to the job. James Petro, who served as state auditor and attorney general in Republican administrations in Ohio and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, will replace Eric D. Fingerhut, who was the first chancellor of the statewide system established under Kasich's predecessor, former Governor Ted Strickland. Some state policy experts and Ohio college leaders have expressed concern that the system's governance structure -- in which the chancellor is selected by the governor and closely aligned with him (or her) -- would make Ohio public higher education too susceptible to political turnover and turbulence, and perhaps threaten the new system. When he ran for governor in 2005, Petro reportedly proposed creating two higher education boards, one for four-year and one for two-year colleges. But he told local reporters Monday that he supported the new structure.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 3:00am

The push by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin to end collective bargaining rights for public higher education has led one union to push for a quick contract. The adjunct union at Madison Area Technical College has been in a dispute with the institution over assigning courses -- a system that the adjuncts say favors full-time faculty members at their expense. The adjuncts are now offering to drop the issue (including a lawsuit over it) in return for quick ratification of a contract on which other issues have already been resolved, The Wisconsin State Journal reported.

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